Somalia on Monday received its first shipment of 300 000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, destined for frontline workers and those most at risk from Covid-19, the government said in a statement.
The conflict-torn nation has seen coronavirus cases soar 77% over the past month, to 9 190, while deaths have more than doubled to a total of 367.
“The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines happens at a critical time as Somalia is now experiencing a new wave of the epidemic,” Health Minister Fawziya Abikar Nur said in a statement.
“It can only be contained if all countries stand together, Somalia included.”
The AstraZeneca jab, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, was provided under the Covax initiative which is working to facilitate vaccine access for poorer countries.
This particular vaccine only requires standard refrigeration, making it easier to transport and store.
Nur said that Somalia had “strong systems in place” to carry out the vaccination campaign.
“The vaccines have helped other countries reduce the spread of Covid-19 and we are confident they will do the same for Somalis,” he said.
Elsewhere in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have also begun vaccinating against Covid-19.